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Law360's Weekly Verdict: Legal Lions & Lambs

Susman Godfrey earned a spot on the legal lions list this week with a win for NYU in litigation brought by an anti-affirmative action group, while Armstrong Teasdale ended up among the legal lambs after a federal judge threw out its lawsuit on behalf of drivers alleging Jeep Cherokees were vulnerable to hacking.

Legal Lions

In a win secured by Susman Godfrey LLP, a New York federal judge tossed a suit Tuesday alleging the New York University Law Review violated federal bias law by favoring female and minority applicants and authors. The court found that the group that challenged the journal's diversity policy couldn’t show its members were hurt. NYU is represented by Stephen Susman, Robert Rivera Jr., Jacob Buchdahl, Arun Subramanian, Tamar Lusztig, Jillian Hewitt and William O’Donnell of Susman Godfrey LLP.

Next up on this week’s legal lions list are Goldstein & Russell and Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads LLP. The U.S. Supreme Court said Monday that three Citgo units are financially responsible for a $133 million oil spill in Delaware caused by a sunken anchor that was hidden beneath the water's surface at a port and pierced a tanker's hull, relieving the financial burden of the spill from the firms’ client Frescati Shipping Co. Frescati is represented by Sarah E. Harrington, Thomas C. Goldstein and Erica Oleszczuk Evans of Goldstein & Russell, John J. Levy, Alfred J. Kuffler and Eugene J. O’Connor of Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads LLP and Timothy J. Bergère of Armstrong Teasdale.

In a win for attorneys at Donahue Goldberg Weaver & Littleton and the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Second Circuit on Wednesday reversed a lower court and said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency must release part of its computer program that is used to price out potential vehicle greenhouse gas emissions standards, deciding that it did not reveal internal deliberations. The Environmental Defense Fund is represented by Matthew Littleton of Donahue Goldberg Weaver & Littleton. The NRDC is represented by Peter Huffman, in house.

A California bankruptcy judge has found PG&E Corp. can’t be held liable for power shutoffs mandated by state regulators as a fire prevention measure, landing the energy giant’s attorneys at Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP, Keller & Benvenutti LLP and Cravath Swaine & Moore LLP on the legal lions list. PG&E is represented by Stephen Karotkin, Theodore E. Tsekerides, Jessica Liou and Matthew Goren of Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP; Tobias S. Keller, Jane Kim and Peter Benvenutti of Keller & Benvenutti LLP; and Paul H. Zumbro, Kevin J. Orsini and Omid H. Nasab of Cravath Swaine & Moore LLP.

Rounding out this week’s legal lions list are five firms: Kirkland & Ellis LLP, Vorys Sater Seymour & Pease LLP, Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, K&L Gates LLP and Haynes and Boone LLP. Total E&P USA Inc. and Chesapeake Exploration LLC don't have to face a $30 million class action alleging they underpaid Ohio landowners by subtracting transportation and processing costs from oil and gas royalty payments because the parties had agreed to a valuation point, a federal court ruled Monday. Chesapeake Exploration is represented by Daniel T. Donovan and Ragan Naresh of Kirkland & Ellis LLP; Peter A. Lusenhop, Jessica Knopp Cunning and Timothy B. McGranor of Vorys Sater Seymour & Pease LLP; and William M. Connolly of Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP. Total E&P is represented by Kristen M. Del Sole, Travis L. Brannon and Jeffrey C. King of K&L Gates LLP and David H. Ammons of Haynes and Boone LLP.

Legal Lambs

First up on this week’s legal lambs list are Armstrong Teasdale LLP, the Law Office of Christopher Cueto Ltd. and the Law Office of Stephen R. Wigginton. An Illinois federal judge on March 27 dismantled a certified class action involving thousands of drivers, represented by the law firms, alleging Jeep Cherokees were vulnerable to hacking. The judge found that the threat of future hypothetical harm doesn't give the drivers standing to sue, thus saving Fiat Chrysler from a multistate trial. The drivers are represented by IJay Palansky, Charles Steese, Julie Fix Meyer, Christopher D. Baucom and Daniel R. O'Brien of Armstrong Teasdale LLP, Christopher Cueto of the Law Office of Christopher Cueto Ltd. and Stephen R. Wigginton of the Law Office of Stephen R. Wigginton.

Next up on the lambs list is Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP. A federal judge on Tuesday ruled against the law firm’s client, Humvee maker AM General, and found Activision Blizzard cannot be sued for trademark infringement for featuring Humvees in its Call of Duty video games, saying the game developer was shielded by the First Amendment. AM General is represented by Robert M. Schwartz, Michael B. Carlinsky and Cory D. Struble of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP.

Holland & Knight LLP ended up on the legal lambs list March 27 when a federal judge ruled that its client, Lyft, can’t force its drivers in Massachusetts to arbitrate claims they are being misclassified as independent contractors rather than employees. Lyft, its CEO Logan Green and company co-founder and President John Zimmer are represented by James D. Smeallie, Andrew E. Silvia, David J. Santeusanio and Michael T. Maroney of Holland & Knight LLP.

A New York federal judge has knocked out all claims from a proposed class action alleging that several banks conspired to deflate the market value of platinum and palladium, ruling Sunday that the plaintiffs are not “efficient enforcers” because they had no direct dealings with the banks, landing the investors’ attorneys at Berger & Montague PC and Labaton Sucharow LLP on the lambs list. The investors are represented by Merrill G. Davidoff of Berger & Montague PC and Jay L. Himes of Labaton Sucharow LLP.

A California federal judge on Wednesday took issue with the "tone" of a request by ex-Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes' counsel to let them violate shelter-in-place orders to prepare for her upcoming trial, saying it wasn’t necessary and they should have had a “rational discussion” instead of filing a proposed order. During a telephonic status conference, U.S. District Judge Edward Davila told Holmes’ attorney, Lance A. Wade of Williams & Connolly LLP, that he was “a little taken aback” by the way their proposed order was phrased. The judge said bringing the crisis to the court’s attention wasn’t necessary.